I am very sorry to read about the death of a student from West Chester University who died from bacterial meningitis. But after hearing about it, I did some quick checking to find out what it is, and how we can avoid it, and how much a person has to worry about it…
Well, it looks like it is one of those infectious diseases that comes from bacteria that always exist in our environment, but that sometimes penetrates into the brain. When it gets there, it inflames the coverings of the brain and that inflammation creates a space in the brain coverings which allows more bacteria to enter the space and inflame the meninges or nerve matter.
So how do you know you have it? Well, you feel like crap, you probably have a serious headache, you can’t stand light and your neck hurts. You may have a rash that when pressed doesn’t blanch or lighten, it remains reddish. You also feel confused.
I’ll bet a lot of people are thinking, it’s flu season, the flu can leave you feeling awful with a headache and problems with keeping your eyes open in well lit rooms, but they have a couple of simple tests for people presenting with meningitis for example, if you tilt your head forward, your legs will pull at the knees. Another simple test that won’t prove a patient has meningitis, but probably will make the doctor schedule further tests is they ask a patient to quickly move their head from side to side horizontally. In patients with regular flu like symptoms that procedure won’t cause any extra pain, but in a patient suffering with meningitis that quick shaking from side to side will make the headache much worse.
Okay, winter is the season for viral or bacterial meningitis to appear. It is harder to catch than the flu, or the regular cold, but drinking from someone’s cups, or being coughed on, or kissing someone who has it could spread the illness. This then is why people in close contact are more in danger of catching the illness and spreading it.
It is so frightening knowing a common bacteria can pass by our immune systems and wreak such havoc on human beings. I think the only good news is that most of us have solid immune systems.
Be safe. Take care of yourself and don’t ignore your body when it’s signalling you that it needs care. You are worth it!
Please note that I am not a medical professional and I am not giving any medical advice, I’m just looking up information from sites online that I trust. I recommend that anyone with a health concern immediately calls their care providers.